Median Comic Book Cover Prices by Year
Median cover prices of all comics offered in the United States by All Publishers, and by specific ones, from 1961 to present
Up until 1961, comic books were mostly priced at 10 cents in the United States. Comics were seen by retailers as loss leaders, things to offer to kids while their parents spent money on more expensive things. Publishers dealt with inflation in the meantime by reducing page counts, from 64 to 48 and finally to 32.
There was no going below 32 pages per issue; while some modern publishers have made entire issues out of cover stock allowing them to go to 28 interior pages, 32 has tended to be the minimum. So in 1961, the first wave of a long series of price increases began.
Readers of Comics Buyer's Guide may remember the "What Price, Comics?" column I ran in #1619, the August 2006 issue. As supporting material, I ran an analysis of what the median prices were for comics across four groups from 1960 to 2005: all comics published in the year, all Marvel comics, all DC comics, and all Archie comics. I presented them visually, with my commentary and the actual cover price stamps, as seen in these images below. An update for the years following 2005 follows immediately thereafter.
The 2020 pandemic caused a major disruption in distribution, with Diamond's exclusive relationships with many publishers ending. Starting in 2020, median, average, and most common prices are drawn from a list of all comics that came out from Diamond Comic Distributors and Lunar Distribution, culled to remove variants.